If you haven’t started your own podcast yet, odds are you’ve thought about it. Podcasting is awesome because people can tune in on the go — in their cars, while washing dishes or mowing the lawn.
On top of this, many of us feel comfortable “just talking” instead of sitting down to write a blog post or attempt to record something on YouTube.
When we listen to a good podcast it feels like we’re sitting down for a cup of coffee with the host, and as business builders this kind of closeness with an audience is especially appealing.
In just a couple short weeks, I’ll be launching my very own podcast here at Fizzle (more on this at the end of this post!), but honestly, I spent much of 2016 merely fantasizing about this new endeavor. Sure, I had a lot of other projects going, but I felt pretty intimidated about starting.
Apart from recording The Fizzle Show and appearing as a guest on other podcasts, I had absolutely no experience with producing audio content.
When I finally started working on this new show in earnest, I admitted to my team that I was apprehensive about the technical side of things (namely, editing). I was surprised when they reassured me, pointing out that the editing would be the easy part once I got the hang of it — it was the actual content of the thing that would be hard work.
Now that I’ve got several completed episodes under my belt, it couldn’t be more true: creating really solid, kick-ass podcast content is challenging.
The truth is, it’s pretty easy to create a flimsy or mediocre podcast. One of the best parts about podcasting is that just about anyone can start one up with a cheap microphone and a little tinkering in Garageband. Because of this, there are tons of new shows launching all the time vying for the attention of good-podcast-seeking listeners.
I don’t mean to discourage anyone from starting a podcast — on the contrary, this project is turning out to be one of my very favorite things I’ve worked on here at Fizzle, and I believe podcasting is a tremendous tool for building an audience. With a little extra foresight and effort, it’s possible to give your new podcast the best chance at gaining some real traction.
Here are three tips for any audio novices like me who dream of launching a podcast. (I learned the hard way so you don’t have to!)
“Here are 3 tips for any audio novices like me who dream of launching a podcast.”
1) You need to find the story.
It’s easy to think podcasting is just flipping a microphone on and shooting the breeze with a cool guest, and on some shows that does work. But as you’ve probably noticed, it feels like there are a million of those shows out there, which left me asking the question, “How am I ever going to stand out?”
Here’s what I’ve learned: the craft of storytelling via audio is a completely different beast than something like writing or video.
You know how you can click over to an interesting blog post and skim it until you find “the good part” (like you’re probably doing right now)? That doesn’t really work in audio. Obviously there are no visuals, which makes audio so unique.
Most listeners will give a new podcast a couple minutes to assess whether they’ll keep listening. I don’t know about you, but I’m not really going to spend time trying to skip ahead to see if the show gets better. If my interest isn’t piqued, I’m likely going to jump ship and find something else to listen to.
That’s why it’s so important to know where your episode is going, and convey that to your audience upfront. If listeners sense you have a plan, they’re more likely to relax and stay tuned to hear you deliver on the content you promised. If your show is wandering and aimless, your listeners might not trust that you really know what you’re doing.
Listen to how Steph “finds the story” live in this new podcast! One part grounding inspiration, one part tangible tactics. Ready to get into it? Here’s where you can find the first episode: Take me to the show »
The first episode is with Amanda Boleyn, where she shares an amazing story about why she left the plush and cushy corporate job and said “YES” to uncertainty. (And in the second episode she gives her 3-steps to doing it yourself too.
Because we’re relying solely on our ears here, we need enough detail and guidance to be able to reconstruct the story using only our imagination. This is why shows like NPR’s “This American Life” rely on the strategic placement of music to help tell the story.
I’m not saying you need to get that fancy — an easy way to achieve this is to focus on the details that create a story. How can your story evoke other senses for the listener? What’s the point, and what did that moment look, smell, taste, sound like?
We recorded a podcast episode about this — which you can find below — where we go deeper on this “finding the story” idea. Chase shares some very helpful stuff about this.
That’s the power of audio: a listener can feel transported to the place you’re trying to take her, and it’s these tiny factoids that make the story memorable (and encourage your audience to come back for more!)
For more on storytelling through podcasting, I recommend Alex Blumberg’s course at Creative Live.
“Podcasters REALLY need to find the story. On a blog you can skim to ‘the good part.’ Not so with audio!”
2) You Need to Work on Season One.
Before diving into the real work of creating my own podcast, our team decided I would produce “Season One” of my new show — in this case, 12 episodes.
I didn’t realize how helpful it would be to focus on a defined set of episodes instead of an open-ended project that could drag on into eternity. This way I could come up with a plan for each of my episodes, schedule interviews, create timelines and realistically set a launch date.
By aiming to complete just one season of my very own podcast, the project feels much more self-contained and achievable. Now whether I decide to continue with more episodes or not, I can still feel a sense of completion instead of someday getting bored with the process and feeling guilty about quitting.
How do you decide what season one looks like for your show? Go with what feels right to you. For my show we’re doing something really unique with the way we break up the episodes into… well, more on the details of that when it launches 🙂
But we had to decide what would be the right publishing schedule for this show based on what felt right to us. (If you don’t know about setting your publishing schedule and how important it can be to your success, you can learn it in this course, which is one of our most popular BTW.)
3) You Need Feedback Early (Seriously, Don’t Wait)
This might be my favorite lesson learned during this entire podcast creation process: try to find someone who’s got more experience than you, and then (gasp!) share it with that person.
After recording my first episode and stumbling through the editing process solo, I simultaneously felt extremely proud and utterly terrified to let anyone else hear my work. What if it sucks and I’m the only one who thinks it’s good? What if it just seems amateur to a more trained ear?
When I shared my first episode with Chase and Corbett, I had listened to every moment so many times I couldn’t possibly be objective about it. And while I was nervous to share my work with my teammates, I knew my show would only get stronger with their input.
Before sharing, I decided to focus on being vulnerable and open enough to really hear the feedback. I might not agree with every piece of critique, but if I put that aside and try to understand how it’s resonating with someone else I can fine-tune and adjust my approach for the next episode (instead of waiting and putting in tons of hard work only to realize I’m not on track.)
In the Fizzle Roadmap (and especially in our Customer Conversations course), we stress that everything in your business should be treated as a hypothesis. Podcast content should be no different, so it helps to treat your first episode(s) as a working first draft without getting too attached.
Here’s some criteria for finding the right person to give you feedback. You should find:
- Someone you trust
- Someone with more experience than you
- Someone who will be honest with you
- Someone who cares about you and thinks you’re talented (so you aren’t left questioning your self-worth if the critique is hard to hear)
If you don’t work on a team, utilizing a mastermind group would be a great way to get quality feedback.
The goal here is to strike a balance between their input and your own gut / creative direction. Added bonus: you won’t be nearly as nervous to release your new podcast into the world after doing some mini-validation with a trusted advisor or two!
Have you started a podcast with little to no audio experience? I’d love to hear what lessons you learned and the tips you would pass along to newbies.
And hey, this podcast I’ve been talking about? It’s launching soon! If you’re interested in hearing real stories and actionable instruction from courageous entrepreneurs, you’ll definitely want to get on the list to hear about it first.
Go deeper with this podcast episode
We recorded an episode of our popular business podcast about this! Please be our guest and enjoy:
Check out our new podcast! One part grounding inspiration, one part tangible tactics. Ready to get into it? Take me to the show »